Housing Gets a Boost

The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation receives historic donation to advance the study of housing design.

September 11, 2019

The Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has announced a donation exceeding $2 million from the IDC Foundation to support faculty leadership and interdisciplinary research. Specifically, the funds will strengthen the school's long-standing expertise in the study of housing, and will encourage the development of new housing models urgently needed to address shifts in demographics, household composition, challenges of climate resilience, affordability and the widening inequality gap.

The gift will help to launch an interdisciplinary research initiative, the Columbia GSAPP Housing Lab, and to fund the IDC Foundation Professorship of Housing Design, the first endowed professorship dedicated to the Architecture program at Columbia GSAPP. Additional support from the IDC Foundation will be directed to financial aid and student travel, furthering the school’s commitment to shaping a more equitable, sustainable and creative world by engaging students from diverse and global perspectives.

“Housing sits at the intersection of the critical questions facing architecture and the built environment today. The study of housing has been paramount to Columbia GSAPP’s academic programs for over 40 years, building on our faculty’s commitment to bring design intelligence together with engaged planning and innovative development approaches to think through new possibilities for more equitable, sustainable and creative housing,” said Columbia GSAPP Dean Amale Andraos. “We are thrilled and incredibly grateful to have the IDC Foundation as partners in cementing our leadership in this area of study and to launch a new research lab dedicated to the study and building of housing for the future.”

In 1974, in response to student requests and to the coordinated interests of its faculty, a series of experiments that took housing as a theme began at Columbia GSAPP. By 1976, the Housing Studio had emerged as a central feature of the Architecture program’s core academic sequence, and has since aimed to inspire a shift in thinking about architecture in relation to the world-at-large for generations.

To honor this important legacy, the IDC Foundation Professor of Housing Design will lead the seminal Housing Studio, in collaboration with the dean. The professorship will also add a crucial perspective to the GSAPP Housing Lab research and contribute to the exceptional intellectual community of scholars and practitioners leading the field in housing innovation.

“The IDC Foundation is very pleased to provide the funding that makes possible the first endowed professorship in the architecture program in Columbia GSAPP’s history,” said Raymond R. Savino, president of the IDC Foundation. “The endowed professorship will focus on housing design and serve as a catalyst for developing creative practices that can have meaningful impact on the production of affordable housing, with particular attention to the intersection of architecture, engineering and building construction. In doing so, it will draw on Columbia GSAPP’s renowned leadership in housing design and advance innovations that address the pressing challenge of affordability.”

Columbia GSAPP is pleased to announce that Associate Professor Hilary Sample has been appointed as the inaugural IDC Foundation Professor of Housing Design. Sample has played an instrumental role in the oversight and development of the housing curriculum in the Master of Architecture program since her appointment as a full-time faculty member in 2011. She has reinforced the housing curriculum’s two-fold ambition to challenge students with the notoriously complex architectural design problem of multi-household and multi-family housing, while also asking them to address the nuanced social, economic and political questions that housing has long entailed. In addition to her academic work, Sample is an architect and principal of MOS Architects, which she co-founded with Michael Meredith in 2003. An internationally recognized architectural practice, MOS was the recipient of the 2015 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum National Design Award in Architecture. The firm is currently working on housing projects in New York City, Mexico City and Washington, D.C.

The Columbia GSAPP Housing Lab will bring together faculty and students from across the disciplines represented at the school and Columbia University at large to leverage expertise around some of the most critical challenges facing urban housing today. Working from a design-centric perspective, the lab will create meaningful collaborations and practical opportunities for architects, developers and planners to advance interdisciplinary work and promote creative methods and bold interventions for affordable, adaptive and resilient housing. The lab will be a locus for testing and demonstrating methods of practice-based scholarship and pedagogy.